Black Panther. Black Reality.

Black Panther is not a cultural movement.  It draws its strength from the deep stirrings of a cultural movement that has long celebrated blackness, longed for a strong heritage bond between Africans and African Americans and proclaimed a vision of the African diaspora. Unlike Halle Berry’s portrayal of Cat Woman, Mike Colter’s portrayal of Luke Cage and Ray Fisher’s portrayal of Cyborg, the cast and movie have temporarily destroyed the levees that protect the island of white supremacy from the vicious waves of black tears that have been eager to overflow.
Black Panther has placed the reality of global white domination at our feet and dared us to walk in the years of tears white supremacy is responsible for on the globe. Still, many black folks seem unwilling to wade in the water or more than that – subdue the land.
I saw Black Panther. It is an amazing movie. The cinematography is stunning. The display of beauty is awe-inspiring. The fight scenes are truly engaging. In a world shaped by persistent perceptions of white supremacy it has no trace of black inferiority.
If there were any doubts about success, now that the movie is out, doubt has turned to dumbfoundedness. The premiere weekend is in the books and Black Panther has exceeded all expectations. It has generated $235 million in the American box office for its Friday to Monday President’s Day weekend.
It is expected to generate $387 million worldwide. Black Panther has spawned a viral and pan – platform social media presence that was littered with pictures of patrons dressed in the garb of the citizens of Zamunda. It has captured the praise and critical eye of many in black America. But, its real value rests in reminding us to confront reality – white supremacy has and continues to shape the world.
As I sat in the theatre, I marveled at the beauty, grace and ferocity of the Dora Milaje. I chuckled at the wit and STEM genius of the Shuri. I cried at the civility and unity of the tribes in the country of Wakanda. I also paused at the truth – this was all a fiction.
Africa is called Africa because it was conquered. Indeed, it was conquered many times before modern Europe armed with germs, Jesus and genocidal genius ushered in the events that would lead to the African slave trade, African slavery in the Americas, and the theft of land, resources and life.
In our dreams, we believe that there is a world where the exercise of power does not corrupt. In our dreams, we believe that white power could have been exercised differently. In reality, it was not. It has not. I would say it could not.
Joy Reid, who I respect tremendously, wrote that Wakanda is the Africa of black dreams. She wrote that African Americans in the movie and in reality are lost to each other. I agree. Africa is lost to many of us and we are lost to Africa. Still, she goes on to intone that in some way the idea of Wakanda inspires what could have been for black Americans in Africa had things gone differently. Here I completely disagree.
We must be careful to smell the stench of white supremacy even amongst the roses of this beautiful cinematic presentation. A world where white power would not colonize, would not destroy people, corrupt with greed, control with technology, confuse with arbitrary hierarchy and live only for the expansion of empire is a world that is impossible.
Donald Trump, the “alt-right”, Africans expelled from Israel, and the growing constriction of democracy and expansion of plutocracy are not the mere workings of civilization, statecraft or all people. Our history is the history of white power. We must not get lost in the daydreams of an impossible alternate world, we must decide, like the characters in Black Panther, what our response to white power and the sick perpetuation of white supremacy will be in our time and in reality.


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